Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Who Has Benefited from the Economic Recovery? Gains in Worker Wages / Earnings and Corporate Profits Since 2009

This could end up being one of the most important papers of the year.

In a nutshell, corporations have benefited from the recovery, people have not.
The implications for society of the unprecedented skew toward corporations could have serious political and policy repercussions if some folks' natural "we have to fix this" reaction were to take hold.

At minimum this should give the corps. the financial wherewithal to influence the 2012 elections.
In light of the Citizens United decision on union and corporate political activities this could be a structural rather than a transient shift.

From Northeastern University:
The “Jobless and Wageless” Recovery from the Great Recession of 2007-2009: The Magnitude and Sources of Economic Growth Through 2011 I and Their Impacts on Workers, Profits, and Stock Values

From page 13 (of 24):
The economic recovery through 2011 I has failed to create any net new jobs since the quarter marking the end of the recession in 2009 II.17 Labor productivity gains, however, have been quite strong over the past two years allowing real GDP and national income to grow. Who have been the major beneficiaries of this renewed national income growth? To answer this question, we tracked changes in the real (inflation adjusted) hourly and weekly earnings of key groups of U.S. workers, in real compensation per hour of work in the business sector, and in corporate profits over the 2009 II to 2011 I time period. In a following section, we also will track changes in the value of key stock indices, including the Dow-Jones industrial average and the S&P 500.

There are a variety of monthly measures of the hourly and weekly earnings of U.S. wage and salary workers. The three most widely cited measures are the hourly earnings of all private sector wage and salary workers and the mean weekly earnings of those same workers from the national BLS payroll survey of employers and the median weekly earnings of full-time wage and salary workers from the monthly CPS survey.18 We converted the nominal hourly and weekly earnings data for each series into their constant 2010 dollar equivalent using the CPI-U price index of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Estimates of the real hourly earnings of all nonfarm private sector wage and salary workers in the U.S. from 2009 II through 2011 I are displayed in Chart 7. The mean, real hourly earnings showed very little change over this 7 quarter period. The mean hourly wage was $22.53 in the second quarter of 2009, fell slightly by the end of that year, increased by only $.12 to $.13 or only .5% in 2010 and fell back to $22.49 in the first quarter of 2011. Real hourly wages were essentially unchanged (-$.04) over the seven quarter period. Similar findings apply to time trends in real compensation per hour of wage and salary workers in the business sector. Over the 2009 II – 2011 I period, real compensation per hour was again basically unchanged, by rising just under .2%....

There are other sources of national income that could have risen, including proprietors incomes, rental income of households, or net interest; however, the overwhelming beneficiary of the rise in national income generated by labor productivity was corporate profits (before tax andincluding capital consumption allowances and inventory change).20 Trends in the annualized value of corporate profits (in constant 2010 dollars) from the second quarter of 2009 to the first quarter of 2011 are presented in Chart 11.

Annualized corporate profits in constant 2010 dollars rose very strongly in the first six quarters of the recovery, rising from $1,203 billion in the second quarter of 2009 to $1,667 billion in 2010 IV. The preliminary estimate of corporate profits for the first quarter of 2011 is $1,668 billion. Over the first seven quarters of recovery, this would represent a gain of $465 billion in corporate profits or just under 40%.
As expected, this tremendous surge in corporate profits lifted stock prices and sharply increased the value of key stock indices including the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Standard and Poors 500....MORE 
To date, through the first quarter of 2011, the nation’s recovery from the 2007-2009 recession is both a jobless and a wageless recovery. Aggregate employment still has not increased above the trough quarter of 2009, and real hourly and weekly wages have been flat to modestly negative. The only major beneficiaries of the recovery have been corporate profits and the stock market and its shareholders. Most holders of savings and money market accounts also are net losers due to declining real interest rates which have been in negative territory for many interest bearing and money market accounts.
HT: Economix, who writes:

Economists at Northeastern University have found that the current economic recovery in the United States has been unusually skewed in favor of corporate profits and against increased wages for workers.

In their newly released study, the Northeastern economists found that since the recovery began in June 2009 following a deep 18-month recession, “corporate profits captured 88 percent of the growth in real national income while aggregate wages and salaries accounted for only slightly more than 1 percent” of that growth....